The role of the need for cognition in the university students’ reading behaviour
Department of Information Sciences, University of Zadar
Introduction. The aim of this research is to examine the role of the need for cognition in the reading behaviour of university students. Need for cognition is a personality trait characterized by one’s motivation to engage in effortful thinking. It is an important intervening variable in the process of seeking information, and specifically in the domain of reading.
Method. The research method included a survey of reading behaviours and attitudes, and the shortened need for cognition scale. The sample consists of 274 undergraduate university students of social sciences.
Analysis. Psychometric properties of a shortened scale of the need for cognition were examined with principal factor analysis. The role it has in reading behaviour was explored with correlations.
Results. The shortened need for cognition scale has good properties, with acceptable reliability. It is positively correlated with reading books for study and popular science books. These topics require high engagement in the complex cognitive activities. Usage of smartphones and tablets is not related to the need for cognition, and the usage of e-ink e-readers is. This correlation indicates that e-ink e-readers are suitable for engaging in complex cognitive activities.
Conclusion. The need for cognition has an important role as an intrinsic motivation for engagement in reading complex content, especially when reading popular science books and books for study. This reading activity is reinforced with flow experiences, since the optimal challenge for individuals with high need for cognition are complex topics. Affordances of e-ink devices that mimic paper books are compatible with such a reading.
Keywords. Need for cognition, e-books, university students, reading behaviour, information behaviour